Ahmedabad, India, May 22, 2017 – India is the perfect place for the African Development Bank to focus on the transformative power of agriculture. India is an inspiration to Africa, in that its Green Revolution took just three years. That was in large measure due to the power of political will and you will see much political will on display here at the Bank Group’s Annual Meetings in Ahmedabad in the next few days.
See agriculture as agribusiness: it’s the best way to create jobs and make money. Our problem is that we have viewed African agriculture through the wrong lens for too many years. Agriculture is not a development activity or a social sector: it’s the biggest money-making business in the world. It’s not for older people – the average age of our African farmers is 60 – but it’s for young people. That’s why we have launched the ENABLE Youth programme with the aim of establishing 10,000 youth-run agribusinesses in every country in Africa.
Agriculture is the most strategic sector for a country’s economic growth, and that a Minister of Agriculture needs to work hand-in-hand with a Minister of Finance and a Minister of Trade and Investment. And yet it’s only Government’s role to create policy, incentives and infrastructure – it’s ultimately the private sector, which must step up and invest along the length of the agricultural value chain, from producing to processing, from farm to fork.
What use is it that Africa produces 75% of the world’s cocoa beans, but produces only 2% of its chocolate. We simply have to transform African agriculture. The African future is not, as some people think, based on oil and gas: you can’t drink oil or smoke gas. The future is food – you can eat food. Our continent’s food and agriculture markets will be worth US $1 trillion within 13 years.